Israel Government Axes Local Broadcasting Authority

Knesset
Debbie Hill-Pool/Getty Images

Israel’s controversial TV tax — an annual fee of about $100 charged to every household with a television set — was struck down on Thursday when the government moved to dismantle its public broadcasting body after years of corruption.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority, which handles all public television and radio broadcasting in the country, has since 1965 indiscriminately levied the fee even to households without satellite or cable access. In light of revelations of massive mismanagement and overspending, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced at a press conference on March 6 that the IBA would be dismantled completely.

In its place, a new broadcasting authority will be created, spanning three separate television bodies: one handling Hebrew programming, another handling Arabic and a third for children’s television.

“Payment of the license fee has become a symbol of a fee without anything in return,” Erdan said. “It cannot continue. The money is swallowed up and has disappeared into a black hole of overtime, unrealistic labor agreements and a disintegrating archive.”

The new broadcasting authority will be significantly slimmed down from its predecessor, with only 600 employees as opposed to the current 1,600. All current IBA employees will be laid off, although Israeli media reported that a few hundred are expected to find jobs within the new organization.

The Second Israeli Broadcasting Authority, a separate entity created in 1990 to handle commercial television and radio broadcasts in Israel, will not be affected by the ruling.

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